It was Albert Einstein who said: “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” I’m increasingly coming up against references to his way of thinking. Personally, I think it was John Wimber, visiting the UK in 1981-2 just prior to my going to Spurgeon’s who introduced the term ‘paradigm shift’ to me. Since then, we’ve become accustomed to the ‘post’ (modernity, Christendom, men, etc.) to the point of almost becoming blasé. However, I’m realising more and more how little we’ve taken on board, within the UK Church, over the last thirty years, which my testimony represents.
I regularly meet local Church leaders who suggest they really do believe it’s simply about trying harder at what’s not been working for most of that period.
I do still meet Ministers who appear to think the Church of which they apart (they tend to refer to ‘my’ church) simply needs to buck up and listen to their sermons and all will be well again (like it wasn’t in a previous decade lost in the fogginess of memory).
On the other hand, I meet many people (and I’m suspecting this is now a greater proportion) who have begun to key into their gut instincts the way they’re doing church is no longer making in-roads into contemporary living. This, for me, although maybe not for them, is good news.
However, I’ve been encouraged this week, by reflecting on my conversation with Charles last Sunday. After the morning service, where I’d been introducing my take on the great commandment as Christian DNA, he engaged me in the kind of stimulating conversation, which doesn't happen after every sermon I preach!
Charles was born in the Congo, to missionary parents and named after CT Studd, who dedicated him. He wanted to encourage me, about what he described as ‘the missional genetic code’. Charles was part of the core team planting Worle BC, when I was part of a College team in the 1980’s. He’s now 83, which just shows you don't need to be young and trendy to get what this missional thing is all about. I left encouraged!